Buying an Apartment
Buying an Apartment
Hannah Shanks - Editor
Buying an Apartment
Apartments enjoy a prestigious reputation synonymous with vibrant city living, stylish open-plan space and great views. But choosing and buying an apartment can be an arduous task, and there are plenty of things you need to think about at each and every stage of the investment process. The issues you need to consider when buying an apartment are often fundamental to the unique apartment experience, so it's a good idea to really get to grips with your chosen property type before hitting the streets in search of your perfect pad. This guide will help to highlight those key points you need to be thinking of at each and every stage of your quest for the perfect apartment.
Before you Begin
Spend some time thinking about the kind of apartment you're looking for. This will help you narrow down your options and enable you to determine some 'must haves' in your apartment choices. Why not designate a file or specific notepad for relevant ideas, lists, notes and criteria to help you organise your ideas? This could really help you keep on top of your thoughts during the planning, hunting, viewing and buying process. You might want to keep the following in mind when narrowing down your apartment choices:
- Location, Location, Location! - Narrow down the areas that you are most interested in living in, and make a list of these locations. Similarly, make a note of all the areas you definitely don't want to live. This way, any agents you approach will know straightaway which properties to offer and which to discard. This process will help narrow down your search area and save you time when both searching and viewing.
- Money Matters - Consider your finances carefully and decide on a maximum budget – narrowing down your search field in this way will ensure that you only view properties you can afford! Don't forget to bear in mind your income and outgoings – factoring in bills and general living expenses will help you be more realistic about your options.
- Space - How much space will you need in your apartment? How many bedrooms? How big a kitchen? Do you need an office? Set yourself some rough criteria for potential properties, so you can present your checklist to estate agents and help them to search for properties more effectively.
- Style - Estate agents use certain design terms with which you need to be familiar when searching for your apartment: Studio apartments merge all your living space into one area, while open-plan design means that your kitchen, dining area and living room will be contained in one open space. Consider your thoughts on these styles of apartment – do you want separate rooms within the apartment? Would studio living be too cramped for you?
- Specifics - Are there certain criteria on which you are unwilling to compromise? Do you want wooden floors? High ceilings? An open-plan design? Designated parking spaces?
Finding your apartment
So, you've narrowed down your options: location, budget, apartment size and must-haves – now it's time to start searching! More and more properties are being listed on the internet, so why not get online and start searching? Here is where those decisions about your specific requirements will come into their own and really help you search quickly and effectively. Search engines within estate agency websites will allow you to input the number of bedrooms you're looking for, your maximum budget, and even the specific location you're interested in. Searching in this way is quicker and more efficient than pounding the streets from agency to agency, and many sites will have photographs included in the property profile, allowing you to narrow down those properties that you like the look of.
When you find an apartment you're interested in, simply contact the agency to book a viewing. Time is of the essence! Apartments are increasingly popular and the property market can move very quickly. Arrange viewings at your earliest convenience while keeping an eye on the property listings for new additions.
Viewing those apartments you're interested in can be both an exciting and a laborious task. If you're experiencing the former, that's great, but finding your new home should be fun, but don't let your enthusiasm blind you to important decisions and issues when viewing potential properties. If you're suffering from the latter: don't give up! If you're struggling to find your ideal property, consider revising your original criteria slightly, offering you more apartment options. A top tip when you're viewing lots of apartments in different areas is to take a notebook, tape measure and even a digital camera. This way you can look over your 'potentials' when you get home without confusing properties, forgetting important details or risking those rose tinted spectacles! Notes and photos will really help jog your memory, and remind you of those points you were concerned or ecstatic about during your viewing. Here are some more top considerations to bear in mind when viewing your potential apartment:
- Location - On your route to the apartment, take in your surroundings. Are there shops and amenities nearby? How do you feel about the neighbourhood? How convenient are the transport links?
- Security - Consider your surroundings long before you step through your potential apartment's front door. How easy is it to gain access to the main building? Is there an intercom system? Is it working? Is the area well lit? Consider your first impressions carefully – do you feel safe? If you have a car, will it be secure?
- Communal Space - Apartments must be considered in light of the space you will be sharing with others in the building. How clean is the communal space (stairways, lifts, garden space)? Does the building look cared for?
- Inside the Apartment - Imagine yourself in the apartment space. Can you see yourself living in the space available? If you have furniture, will it fit? (Here's where your tape measure comes in!) How easy will it be to move your furniture into the apartment? Are you overlooked by adjacent buildings?
Things to Look Out For
While the above points are vital for a successful property viewing, there are a few further points you need to be aware of when viewing an apartment. Apartment living can come hand in hand with unique property issues that can work both for and against you. Try to bear in mind the following apartment-specific considerations as you view properties.
- Noise is a key consideration when investing in an apartment. Wooden floors may look chic and stylish, but they can also make for noisy neighbours! If you're seriously thinking of investing in a particular apartment, take the time to research those living above and below as well as next-door to your property. A week into your new apartment-life is not the time to discover a neighbour's penchant for heavy metal or playing the drums!
- Accessibility can be an issue in an apartment block. Take a minute to think of those who will be visiting you at home – are there people for whom access could be a problem? Is there a functional lift for older visitors or family? Simple considerations such as shopping trips may help you to better envisage the practicalities of apartment life.
- Outside Space One of the major sacrifices of apartment living can be the loss of outdoor space. Consider this sacrifice carefully, and if you find the loss too daunting, ask your agent about apartments with balconies, roof terraces or even shared gardens. Alternatively, check the surrounding areas for public parks or footpaths.
- Pets If you have pets, consider them in your property search. This can be a major consideration for those wishing to move into an apartment, as you must be fair to both your pets and your neighbours. Is your dog's barking likely to irritate neighbours? Will you be able to give the pet adequate fresh air and exercise?
When you've found an apartment you're really interested in, you may want to have a survey carried out on the property to ensure there are no hidden problems which may affect your interest. These surveys offer you peace of mind should you finally decide to put in an offer, and can help you to avoid making an unsound investment. Once you're satisfied that the property is up to standard, you're free to make an offer.
Making an Offer
If the price of your chosen apartment seems reasonable when compared with the local market and quality of the property, you may decide to dispense with any bargaining and go in with an offer at full price. While it's tempting to attempt to beat your seller down, going in at the asking price will ensure you're taken seriously straightaway, and may save you time and energy in the long run. It will also ensure that you're not beaten to a sale by another party while you're still trying to barter! Make the offer with the proviso that the property is taken off the market – this will deter others from looking at your chosen property and possibly outbidding you. With a popular property type like apartments, this is especially important.
Having made your apartment choices, viewed potential properties, chosen an apartment and made your offer, you're well on your way to stylish, chic apartment-living! The key considerations of apartment life listed above are designed to help you at every stage of your apartment-buying process. Good luck!